The team announced that David Stearns will step down as Brewers’ president of baseball operations but remain with the club in an advisory capacity. General Manager Matt Arnold will now oversee the Division of Baseball Operations.
It’s a surprising change at the helm of the Brewers’ baseball operations division, as the Stearns have built a reputation as one of the most widely respected baseball officials in the game since taking the reins at Milwaukee. He was under contract until the 2023 season.
“This is not an easy decision for me and is something I have been grappling with for a long time,” Stearns said in a prepared statement. “[Owner] Mark Atanasio and I had an open dialogue and we knew that day might finally come. It has been a priority for each of us that any transition occur while the organization is in a healthy position with strong leadership and a talented roster moving forward. That is certainly the case today.”
“I am very grateful to Mark and all of our staff for their support and efforts throughout my time with Brewers,” Stearns continued. not shiny [Arnold] It arrived in 2015 and is more than ready for this next opportunity. I am committed to serving as a resource for Matt as he sees fit as the organization moves through this transition.”
Of course, this announcement would spark immediate speculation about whether Stearns will eventually head elsewhere. The team noted that he will serve the property and the Baseball Operations Division as an advisor, and Stearns himself suggests in those comments that he will remain with the organization for the time being to help guide Arnold and others through the transition process. However, his departure from such a prominent role could pave the way for his eventual departure altogether.
For example, the Mets Stearns, a native of New York, chased after the vacant Chief of Baseball Operations position in each of the past two seasons but was denied permission to be interviewed. Mets owner Steve Cohen eventually landed Billy Ebler to lead the baseball operations team, but Ebler took the title of “general manager,” leaving the door open for a president to be appointed to the top of the hierarchy.
Still, Stearns could be attractive to a large number of teams looking for a veteran baseball operations captain over the course of the next year. The Harvard graduate has been running baseball operations for the Brewers since 2015, and prior to that, he was an assistant to General Motors in Houston, and director of baseball operations in Cleveland (a role he shared with current Twins president of baseball operations Derek Valvey).
As for Arnold, he will gain independence in running baseball operations for the first time in his career. Arnold was hired away from Rays in 2015 to serve as an assistant to GM under Stearns, and was promoted to general manager in 2020. Arnold, like Stearns, was attracting the interest of other teams in the search for their front desk, rising to make GM’s chair of Difficult for other teams to follow (clubs are generally only allowed to interview other team CEOs if they are offering a promotion).
Despite holding the GM title for the past two years, the 43-year-old Arnold was second in the team’s operations hierarchy as of today’s announcement. He has spent more than 20 years working in baseball, however, as the Players Team Manager for Tampa Bay as well as taking on a variety of roles in scouting, player development and player analysis at the Dodgers, Reds, and Rangers during his career.
That Arnold is the one who is now supposed to oversee the department leaves the Brewers with some more continuity than the standard change of guard, but the leadership change is nonetheless a seismic shift for the Brewers. Atanasio described Stearns’ impact on the club as “transformative” in his statement today, adding that he was “disappointed” with the decision but also “grateful” to Stearns over the past seven years.
It’s easy to see why. Prior to signing with the Stearns in 2015, the Brewers had won only two division titles dating back to 1969 and reached the post-season on only four occasions. Milwaukee won the NL Central in both 2018 and 2021 under Stearns and reached the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, from 2018-21.
Along the way, Stearns, Arnold, and their staff created a powerful course for recruiters Brandon Woodruff And the Corbin Burnsas well as business acquisitions such as Freddy PeraltaAnd the Eric Lauer And the Adrian Hauser. (Woodruff was drafted by the former system in 2014, but, as an eleventh-round pick, still represents a player development victory for the organization as a whole.)
A search up and down the Brewers list reveals one of the most trade-dependent clubs in the Majors. In addition to Peralta, Lauer, and Houser, the Stearns oversaw deals that brought in Willie AdamsAnd the Naughty TellezAnd the Renfro hunter And the Louis Urias in the organisation. The most popular swaps include lopsided Christian Willich Acquisition of Marlins and trade sent Carlos Gomez And the Mike Verse To Houston in exchange for Hauser, defensive player Britt Phillips And the Josh Hader.
Stearns withdrew his stake from flak to trade Hader to Padres on deadline this summer despite the fact that his team was in contention for a third NL Central title under his watch. The former Brewers boss has since admitted that the move had more impact on the club than he had expected. However, threading the needle by gaining controllable talent versus players with diminished control of the club (at or near peak value) is a reality for most small and mid-sized front desks. (Hader will be a free agent next winter and has a projected salary of $13.6 million in arbitration.)
Overall, though, it’s fair to say Stearns’ willingness to act boldly in the commercial market has done brewers more benefit than it has hurt them. Now, those decisions will ultimately fall to Arnold. It’s impossible to say for sure if he’d have the same affinity for aggressively attacking the trading market, but given Arnold’s roots in the ever-active Rays organisation, seven years working alongside Stearns and a huge arbitrage class, the Brewers are Most likely in another active season.
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